Tag Archives: stage plays

TONI SIMMONS HENSON-Our Stories, Our Voices! Revisited!

 

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The 2016 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival will be held in October, visit http://atlantabtf.org/ for more information!

LISTEN TO WHAT TONI HAS TO SAY:

Theatre Producer, Toni Simmons Henson grew up in Hillside, NJ in the backyard of Broadway. Her passion for theatre stems back as early as when she was 8 years old when she and her sister, Wanda Simmons, the writer and age 9, produced plays in their backyard and basement for neighborhood kids.
In 2004, Henson became the Executive Director of Drama Kids of Princeton. Drama Kids is the US franchise of the Helen O’Grady Acting Academy.

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The Australian based academy is the largest children’s acting academy in the world. In just a few short years, under her tenure, the Academy enrolled over 750 students and produced over 80 plays and presentations. The program grew to five locations and two summer camps. The explosive popularity of the program attracted national publicity including articles in Entrepreneur Magazine and the cover of the Princeton Packet Weekend Magazine. Henson received two awards for distinguished achievement.

In 2007, Henson moved to Atlanta and founded Micah 6-8 Media, LLC. Under that company, she produced two hit plays entitled Once Upon a Dream by Khristi  Adams and Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! by Melissa  Blackmon and Wanda Simmons.  Big Girls Gotta Eat, Too! toured four cities and was a part of the 2012 DC Black Theatre Festival.

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In 2012, Henson founded the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival where over 200 artists perform 40 plays in four days. This annual event attracts thousands of theatre lovers from 24 states and three countries.  In 2014, Micah 6-8 Media, LLC was nominated and awarded first runner up as Emerging Business of the Year by the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce for the Festival’s “significant contribution to economic development and community impact.”

The festival hosts an annual event gala that has honored theatre legends such as Taurean Blacque, Melba Moore, Pearl Cleage, Alia Jones-Harvey and American Theater Hall of Famer, Woodie King, Jr.

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Henson holds a B.B.A. from Howard University and an M.P.A from New York University. She has been married for 25 years to Antonio Henson, V.P. of PNC Bank and together they have four children.

The 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is October 8th-11th. To find out more about the festival go to

www.atlantabtf.org

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Austin Event!! “Don’t Call Me Brother!” Staged Reading

 

DON'T CALL ME BROTHER!
DON’T CALL ME BROTHER!

 

Another black youth has been killed by a police officer under questionable circumstances. Recently promoted Andrew Merritt’s first task as Chief of the Community Liaison Department is to restore his former community’s confidence in the police department.  At the same time he attempts to maintain the respect of his activist family and his fellow police officers. His loyalty is in question from both sides.

Is this new job a step up…or a set up?

Join us Sunday, September 27th at 2pm:

The Boyd Vance Theatre

1165 Angelina Street

Austin, TX 78702

Doors open at 1:30pm

Light refreshments will be served

This is a dramatized stage reading followed by a panel discussion from community members.

$15 Adults/$10 Youth (under 18)

Don’t Call Me Brother Tickets

This event is supported in part by the Cultural Arts Division, City of Austin and Austin Creative Alliance

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MELISSA TALBOT-MUSIC, THEATER and FILM

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About Melissa Talbot:

            If you’re sitting in a room next to her, you may not even know that she’s there. Melissa Talbot, director and producer, lets her work speak for her. Her dual role as director and producer of Switchplay TV yielded the highest ratings for independent shows on the WB (now known as The CW Network). From that, she successfully birthed a gut-wrenching live comedy television show, Switchplay Live. Her work with world-renowned playwright and producer Angela Dunlap not only gained her local and regional recognition, but national exposure. Clientele, cast members and confidants know that Melissa Talbot is not going to give 100 percent—she’s giving 110.

Working with celebrities from across the nation in productions such as He Said, She Said and Cheaters opened many doors of opportunity for Talbot to hone her skills. In 2012, she partnered with executive producer Mark Hunter for the stage play Eyes of Deception. Her work with actors Royce Reed, Kym Whitley, Reginald “Bruh Man” Ballard, Hope Flood, and Christian Keyes led to even greater works. Talbot had the honor of directing and producing When a Woman Loves and There Goes the Neighborhood.

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Her collaboration with Chosen One Productions for the stage play Entangled landed a national DVD distribution deal, which releases in the early part of 2015, in addition to a feature at the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival. As an official member of Urban Playwrights United (UPU), Talbot won the Two-Minute Play Competition in both 2012 and 2014. Serving as production manager for the stage play Idol and the movie, My Sister’s Keeper, she’s definitely left a mark on the industry that can’t be erased.

When she’s not making magic on the theatrical stage, she’s managing R&B recording artists Raw Voyces and Johnyce. A distinctive creative graphic designer, Talbot’s artistic skills are showcased on hundreds of fliers, book covers, magazines and other forms of mass media around the world. Shooting for her first film, Stay in Your Place, begins in early 2015.

Despite her long list of accomplishments, Talbot humbly acknowledges that none of it would be possible without the support and commitment of her team. While many business professionals struggle to find balance, she’s not only found it—she’s mastered it. She’s careful not to bad mouth anyone in business for she knows her commitment, her work, her delivery, will speak for itself.

So, Melissa, let’s talk!

You’ve done stage plays, music events and now film, at what point did you consider yourself a professional in your particular industry?

I considered myself a professional in the industry when I became producer/director of a local television show that went national in various cities/states named “Switchplay TV” in 2001.  When the ratings, fan mail and awards started coming in, I saw that people who I would never meet enjoyed our work and hard labor. I realized you could change the world through entertainment and laughter.

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How do you manage to so many different projects/businesses?

I’m able to manage so many projects because I actually have a TEAM that helps and supports me 100 percent.  They see the visions and we get it done.  I don’t want to start naming people because I know I may forget someone but they know who they are.  Also I schedule specific days and times for different projects and I still write everything down in notebooks, calendars to sync everything together.  I have to stay organized, if I don’t I will go crazy.

Where do you see the industry headed?

Everything is headed to digital and instant gratification. Actually, we are already there.  People have very limited attention spans.  We want everything fast, in a hurry, and mobile from tv, to stage, to film and shorter versions.  Stage production use to run 3 to 3.5 hours now it’s 2 hours max with intermission.  Stage plays are getting distributed on Netflix and online distribution companies for easier access.  And you have Web series with 7 to 10 minute episodes versus 30-minute sitcom shows.  Audio books, Kindle, Nook, etc., have people barely wanting to even hold a book anymore.  So I definitely think we need to start moving our mindset to how to get our productions to the consumer faster.

Because your work targets a demographic this is historically underserved and underrepresented, how difficult is it to expose them to quality theater?

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Quality.  That’s a word that is left to the consumer to define.  I ask people all the time who determines the “quality” of something.  I may not agree on certain a topic or subject matter or it’s demographic but if a consumer is buying it, does it not make it quality?  When I use the word quality it’s almost in the sense of the old school saying “putting your best foot forward”.  As a producer I’m picky about what I select to work on because I have to know how am I going to market this product. So my mind is on the finished product before I even begin working on it. On how I expose my productions to people, I genuinely care about people.  I try my best to make sure I support them and their endeavors; I drop a text, send an email, make a phone call just to say ‘Hey’ or catch up. I believe in staying connected to my audience and making them apart of every experience.  I’m currently trying to expand my audience by branching out and networking at other events and cultures.

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What is the biggest misconception that the general public has about what you do?

The biggest misconception is that I don’t need to get paid!! I must be paid (lol).  With business endeavors comes bills.  I have staff, production teams, food, venue, all types of overhead bills, bills, and more bills.  So it’s funny to me that after every production I get a call from someone- it never fails- the day after a show talking about doing something without any money and all I can say is I don’t have any either!! But when it comes to what I do I give my all, again I love people, good, bad and ugly, if we were all the same life wouldn’t be entertaining!

 

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For booking or more information, email itsmtalbot@gmail.com or visit http://www.itsmtalbot.com.